Monday 23 February 2015

"A Slice of WW1 Life" - a play at Cheltenham Library, Friday 27th March 2015 7.30 pm

For anyone living in the Cheltenham/Gloucester area, or able to get there, a play about the lives of Gloucestershire citizens during the First World War.

With thanks to the F.W. FW Harvey DCM Facebook Page.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Famous People who lost sons in The First World War - E.W. Hornung, writer

E.W. Hornung, the British writer, poet and member of J.M. Barrie's recreational cricket team, was the author of the "Raffles" stories. 

E.W. Hornung married Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's sister Constance in September 1893.  Their son Arthur Oscar (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's nephew) was killed on 6th July 1915.  Educated at Eton and then Cambridge University,  when war broke out Oscar, as he was known, volunteered and was commissioned into the Essex Regiment.  

Oscar was killed at the Second Battle of Ypres on 6th July 1915.   His father joined an anti-aircraft battery and then went to work as a YMCA volunteer running recreational huts for soldiers on the Western Front.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Flanders Poppies

It seems that the phenomenon of those Flanders poppies about which Canadian poet, artist, doctor and artilleryman Colonel John McCrae wrote has been evident after every battle in the area.

The British historian Lord Macaulay wrote in 1855 about the site of the Battle of Landen in the Province of Brabant. The battle took place in 1693, during the Nine Years War between the French and the English when William III was on the throne.  Landen is in Belgium and is approximately one hundred miles from Ypres.  The French lost 9,000 men and the English 19,000:

 "The next summer the soil, fertilised by twenty thousand corpses, broke forth into millions of poppies. The traveller who, on the road from Saint Tron to Tirlemont, saw that vast sheet of rich scarlet spreading from Landen to Neerwinden, could hardly help fancying that the figurative prediction of the Hebrew Prophet was literally accomplished, that the earth was disclosing her blood, and refusing to cover the slain."

John McCrae's poems:

Macaulay's works are also available on Project Gutenberg.

Picture:  A painting entitled "Trenches on the Somme" by Canadian Artist Mary Riter Hamilton who went to paint the aftermath on the Western Front in 1919. Mary's paintings were commissioned by the Canadian War Amputees Association and can be viewed on

Monday 2 February 2015

Famous People whose sons died in WW1 - Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling's only son John, who was born in 1897, was lost at Loos just six weeks after his birthday. He was eighteen years old.  

At the outbreak of war, John tried to join the Royal Navy but was rejected because he was short-sighted.  However his fiercely patriotic father, Rudyard Kipling the famous poet, had friends in high places and pulled some strings to get John a commission in the Irish Guards. After training John was sent to the Western Front which his father was visiting as a war correspondent at the time.  John was reported missing in action at the Battle of Loos in September 1915.

Photo:  John Kipling

Sunday 1 February 2015

Famous people who had sons killed in WW1 - Oscar Wilde

For anyone interested in Oscar Wilde, there is an exhibition, lectures and more currently on until 26th April 2015 at the Rosenbach of the Free Libfrary in Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA in America. For details please see

Oscar Wilde's son, Cyril Holland, was killed in action on 9th May 1915.  After Wilde's imprisonment, his wife changed their name to Holland and took the children to Switzerland.  Cyril was educated at an English-language school in Germany before going to Radley College, an independent boarding school for boys near Oxford.  He went on to the Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in 1905.  After service in India, when WW1 broke out Lt. Holland was posted to the Western Front where he took part in the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle.  He was killed by a sniper on 9th May 1915 at the Battle of Festubert.  Lt. Holland was buried in Richebourg-l'AvouĂ© in France.

Photo:  Cyril with his mother.